Search engine optimization (SEO) has become a buzzword in the digital marketing landscape. While the number of SEO experts within companies is growing, many business owners don’t fully understand the term or what it means from a resource allocation perspective.
This can make them a vulnerable target for SEO specialists or leave them frustrated when they don’t have enough knowledge to assess what their in-house team is doing to optimize their website.
At Americaneagle.com, we believe the concept of powerful SEO is the foundation for website traffic and conversion, no matter the size of a company.
We also like to be fully transparent with our clients about achieving the two high-level SEO goals of any website project:
1). Maintaining existing strong keyword rankings and organic website traffic.
2). Building a website that has the opportunity to rank well in organic search using best SEO practices.
Follow these top 10 SEO tips to learn how to improve your rankings and increase the number of target prospects coming to your site:
1. Implements 301 Redirects
A website is like your wardrobe. You need to keep it neat and organized and sometimes you’ll need to replace old items with new ones. The same is true for site pages and their corresponding URLs.
Any time you decide that a page is no longer relevant and wish to remove it, you’ll have to redirect users to a different page via a 301 redirect. This way, you avoid wasting any backlink value coming from 3rd party sources, prevent crawl errors and, most importantly, maintain existing keyword rankings.
However, sweeping the majority of your redirects to the homepage is a mistake. Instead, create redirects for the appropriate pages. The SEO team at Americaneagle.com usually takes care of redirects at the beginning of a project, as a way to help with sitemap planning.
2. Ensure you have crawlable pages
The “crawlability” of a site is referred to as its ability to be discovered by search engine bots or “spiders.” If your content (web pages, images, video, PDFs, etc) cannot be scanned and digested by Google, your website will remain “hidden” from your ideal prospects.
Ensure Google is able to crawl your online platform, by eliminating any directives on the site that might prevent those bots from reading and indexing the pages.
Often, when a site is in development, experts purposely lock it out of Google by adding “noindex” and “nofollow” directives to all pages. Make sure that any directives like this are removed from the source code or robots.txt file before going live.
It’s also important to correctly link up all pages in the navigation bar or through internal linking.
3. Assign unique title tag sets for each page
Title tags play an essential role in letting the readers know what they are about to see before clicking on a page. Search engines also need these elements to determine the relevancy of web pages and rank them accordingly in search results.
To follow best practices, title tags should be between 30-70 characters and include important keywords at the beginning.
At Americaneagle.com, we ensure each page has a title tag dynamically generated based on the page name and appended with the branding.
Here are two examples:
Gourmet Chicago Popcorn | Garrett Popcorn (good)
Homepage | Garrett Popcorn (poor)
If your old website already has strong title tags, it’s recommended to maintain those on the new site as well.
4. Create headings for each page
Headings help audiences and search engines understand the structure of a web page and scan the information in a more efficient manner.
Each page should have one <H1> heading, which is the primary headline on the page. Any additional headings (<H2>, <H3>, <H4>, etc.) should follow a logical hierarchy and may be repeated (unlike the <H1> heading). Ideally, the primary heading should incorporate the main keywords and the other headers should include secondary and contextual keywords. This strategy will ensure Google can make sense of your content and promote it in result pages.
5. Don’t skip meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are short page descriptions specified in the source code that Google often displays on the search engine results page (SERP). Their goal is to generate website traffic by “hooking” readers, so they need to be unique and compelling.
Meta descriptions should describe the page content as accurately as possible, while enticing users with call-to-action (CTA) phrases such as “Learn more about …” or “Discover how to…”
It is recommended that you keep these blurbs between 50 and 200 characters, with different phrases from page to page. If a site has strong existing meta descriptions, it’s best to carry those over to the new website.
6. Create an SEO-boosting XML Sitemap
Every website should have a dynamic XML sitemap, which is an XML file containing all the pages that you want a better ranking for.
Since Google discovers new and interesting content by crawling and indexing web pages, a sitemap helps bots know what is on the pages you feel deserve more views. An XML sitemap even tells Google when your content was updated, so your pages can improve their position over time.
Your XML sitemap should contain no more than 50,000 URLs, and they all need to be pure 200 status.
7. Optimize page speed and images
Slow-loading websites are not only bad for user experience but are also detrimental to SEO. Google penalizes slow websites. To avoid this issue, make sure that your web pages can visually load in under three seconds. Overly large image file sizes are one of the main culprits of slow websites and an image optimizer tool can help reduce their size to under 200kb, which is the ideal proportion.
You won’t need to worry about this if your content management system (CMS) automatically compresses images upon uploading. Another thing to keep in mind: create keyword-friendly file names and image alternate text.
8. Google Analytics & Google Search Console
For all websites, it is key to set up Google Analytics/Google Tag Manager and Google Search Console at launch. If the website has an existing analytics account (most of them do), be sure to carry over the existing tracking code, as not to lose any historic data.
9. Pre & Post Launch SEO Audit
Make sure to ask your team to conduct a pre and post-launch internal SEO audit and remediate any issues before they become a bigger problem. Your site’s speed, as well as SEO-optimized content that is also mobile-friendly, should be top priorities, pre-launch. Post-launch will matter more regarding factors such as your on-page SEO, internal linking, and 404 errors.
10. Ask for Help
Successful SEO and Digital Marketing projects often require expert help. At Americaneagle.com, we have a team of professional marketers, analysts, writers, and web designers ready to build you a top-notch, high-quality website that ranks on the first page of Google. Contact us today to start a memorable partnership!